U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Guidance to Clarify its Accidental Release Reporting Rule

By Beeta Lashkari, Eric J. Conn, and Micah Smith

Earlier this month, on September 1, 2022, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced the release of a new guidance document about the agency’s still-relatively new Accidental Release Reporting Rule.  The Accidental Release Reporting Rule, which went into effect in March 2020, requires owners and operators of stationary sources to report accidental releases that result in a fatality, a serious injury, or substantial property damage to the CSB within eight hours. Just a few months ago, the CSB published its first list of incidents that had been reported to the agency pursuant to the rule.

Of the new guidance document, CSB Interim Executive Steve Owens said:

“Our goal is to make sure that owners and operators report chemical releases to the CSB as required by law. While many companies already have been complying with the rule and submitting their required reports, this guidance should help resolve any uncertainties about the reporting requirement. If someone is unsure about what to do, they should report, rather than risk violating the rule.”

The new guidance has been a long time coming. Indeed, the agency Continue reading

OSHA’s Web Portal for Fatality and Injury Reporting Goes Live – But Use It with Caution

By Eric J. Conn, Chair of Conn Maciel Carey’s OSHA Practice

In addition to employers’ longstanding obligation to report to OSHA all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, as of January 1, 2015, all employers were required to also begin reporting to OSHA within 24 hours, all work-related in-patient hospitalizations (of just a single employee), amputations and losses of an eye . OSHA is publishing the details about these reported injuries online.

Reporting 1

We have written extensively about OSHA’s new reporting rule, including articles that:

  1. Explain the requirements of the new rule;
  2. Describe what happens after injuries are reported to OSHA; and
  3. Dissect the nuances of the amputation component of the rule.

Under the new reporting rule, employers have three ways to perfect the notification to OSHA. As has been compliant for year, employers may call the nearest OSHA Area Office or call OSHA’s toll-free reporting hotline – 800-321-OSHA.

The new rule also introduced a new reporting methodology – a web portal for online fatality and injury reporting. The web portal, however, was under development until just a couple of weeks ago.

OSHA was very excited to Reporting Web Portalintroduce the new web portal because of the “success” of OSHA’s other recent experiment with web portal reporting – whistleblower retaliation complaints. A couple of years ago, OSHA introduced a convenient web portal for employees to report retaliation complaints, and the number of complaints filed by employees surged.

OSHA believes injuries and fatalities are being under-reported by employers, so OSHA supposed that could be addressed by this more convenient technology.

While the online reporting portal is an easy method for reporting, and it is available 24/7, it does have major drawbacks. Employers should Continue reading

Attorney-Client Privileged Incident Investigations and Investigation Report Writing [Webinar Recording]

On Tuesday, December 15, 2015, Eric J. Conn and Kathryn M. McMahon, partners in Conn Maciel Carey’s national OSHA Practice Group, delivered a webinar regarding “Privileged Investigations and Report Writing: Conduct Better Investigations and Protect the Findings.”

An incident, accident, injury or near miss has just occurred in your workplace; what do you do now?  After the emergency is addressed, one of the most important steps to take is to conduct an investigation, identify the root causes of the incident, and document your lessons learned and recommendations to prevent a similar incident in the future.  However, there may be lots of interested parties who want to get their hands on your investigation report, from OSHA inspectors to plaintiffs’ attorneys, from your competitors to the media, and that report could be used against you in enforcement proceedings, personal injury or wrongful death civil suits, Privileged Webinar Cover Slideor even criminal investigations and prosecutions.  Accordingly, it is critical that incident investigations be thorough, and that investigation reports be prepared carefully and thoughtfully.  Likewise, whenever possible, investigations and investigation reports should be done under the protection of the attorney-client privilege.

This webinar provided employers with the knowledge and tools they need to conduct better incident investigations, draft better investigation reports, initiate investigations under attorney-client privilege, and maintain privilege to avoid disclosure of investigation reports to third parties.

Topics included:

  • Why and how to initiate incident investigations under the protection of attorney-client privilege;
  • How to conduct an effective incident investigation;
  • Best practices for incident report writing; and
  • Steps to take to maintain privilege over incident reports.

Here is a link to a recording of the webinar.

This webinar was the final installment of Conn Maciel Carey’s 2015 OSHA Webinar Series.  Here’s a link to a description and recordings of all the other webinars in that series.  Plan to join us for monthly complimentary OSHA webinars as part of our 2016 OSHA Webinar Series.